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Washington Sees 90% Decrease in Marijuana Felony Arrests

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The Washington State Caseload Forecast Council conducted an analysis to determine the number of felony marijuana-related arrests before and after legalization. From June 2008 and December 2009, the state shows 1,312 marijuana-related felonies. Eighteen months after legalization that number reduced to just 147. That represents a 90-percent decrease in marijuana-related felonies.

Following the implementation of I-502, law enforcement agencies were able to focus their time on higher priority-level crimes, KLCC Radio reports. The significant drop in felony convictions, charges and/or arrests is not a surprise to everyone. Executive Director of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Tom McBride is one that is not surprise. He commented that the reduction in felony prosecutions was “expected.”

Alison Holcomb of the ACLU of Washington said, “It’s really heartening. These are strong signs that this was the right policy choice for Washington state voters to make and we’re really grateful that they had the courage to do it.”

Holcomb also said, “And I think this data reflects that that’s in fact what happened. Law enforcement is realizing that it’s more important for them to be investigating different types of offenses that involve, for example, violence or property theft and destruction.”